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VALLADOLID, city in N. central *Spain. As the chief city of the kingdom of Castile and the meeting place of the Cortes, Valladolid attracted many Jews to settle there; it is also connected with decrees and edicts issued there against both the local Jews and those in the kingdom as a whole. Jewish settlement in Valladolid is first mentioned in 1221. However, Jews probably already lived there during the Arab period, as well as immediately after the Christian Reconquest in the 11th century.

Information is extant from the second half of the 13th century concerning houses of the Jewish quarter bought from Christians and the butchery situated near the old synagogue. One of the landowners was Joseph b. Moses de Gerondi (perhaps the son of *Naḥmanides), who was a favorite at the court of *Alfonso X. In 1288 Sancho IV prohibited the Jews of Valladolid from acquiring land in its vicinity. The community appears to have consisted of 50 to 100 families; it was thus of average size in comparison with other Spanish communities.

In 1322 the municipal council prohibited Christians from attending Jewish and Moorish weddings and from receiving treatment from Jewish physicians. Jews were also excluded from holding public office. Nevertheless, the right to farm the alcabala tax of Valladolid were leased to Jews. as was the tax imposed on owning livestock. Details are known from the beginning of the 14th century about litigation brought before R. *Asher b. Jehiel (Rosh) between R. Menahem and the community administration of Valladolid, which had sold the right to farm tax collected from it to the community of Carrion. During that period the apostate *Abner of Burgos settled in the town. He was appointed sexton of the church of Valladolid, and even became known as Alfonso of Valladolid. In 1336, on the orders of *Alfonso XI, he engaged in a public *disputation with the Jews of Valladolid on the subject of the *Birkat ha-Minim. His arguments were accepted by the king who ordered the removal of this prayer from the prayer books.

At the time of the civil war between the brothers Pedro the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara, the inhabitants of the town joined with Henry in 1367, and the local Jews were subsequently subjected to attacks in which eight synagogues were destroyed. The survivors had to receive assistance and support from the communities of the kingdom of Aragon. The community apparently recovered, however, for in 1390 John I granted the monastery of San Benito an income of 15,000 maravedis from the annual tax and service tax which the Jews of Valladolid had paid him. This income was again ratified in 1412, though granted to the monastery from other sources because the majority of the local Jews had by then converted to Christianity as a result of the anti-Jewish persecutions in Spain of 1391.

The community was then in the process of disintegration. At that time Vicente *Ferrer lived in the town. Through his influence, in conjunction with *Pablo de Santa Maria, a series of severe anti-Jewish laws was issued, known as the Laws of Valladolid. The legislation was intended to undermine the foundations of Jewish existence and bring the Jews to conversion. It abolished Jewish autonomy, the Jews' rights of independent jurisdiction, and their special tax administration, among other measures. Christian judges were appointed to administer Jewish law. A special decree prohibited the Jews and the Moors of Valladolid from leaving the town, in conformity with the prohibition forbidding the Jews to leave the kingdom. The local rulers were warned not to offer protection to the Jews.

In 1413 John II authorized the erection of a new Jewish quarter in Valladolid. The representatives of the community leased land for the quarter from the San Pablo monastery for an annual payment. The contract stipulated that the lease would be annulled if the quarter was removed to another site, if the king ordered the expulsion of the Jews from the town, or if all the Jews converted to Christianity.

An attempt to restore community life in the kingdom, however, was made by an assembly of delegates of the communities of the kingdom of Castile; "scholars and good men" convened between April 4 and May 2, 1432, under the leadership of Don Abraham *Benveniste of Soria in the great synagogue of Valladolid in the Jewish quarter, where they discussed the organization of the communities and their rehabilitation. This meeting was significant since, in addition to the regulations issued there, it was held in the chief city, which was the seat of the "court rabbi" (*rab de la corte), the leader of Spanish Jewry, and thus expressed the idea of a national Jewish organization. The assembly issued five unique sets of regulations aimed to restore the life of the communities to their former greatness. The Regulations of Valladolid promoted an internal revival of the communities by their own initiative and also demonstrated that it was the policy of the king to encourage their recovery.

In the tax registers of 1439, an annual tax assessment of 15,000 maravedis in old currency is still mentioned, but as few Jews by then remained in Valladolid, John II reduced the payment to 11,400 maravedis of the same currency. In 1453 he further exempted the Jews and the Moors from various taxes, excepting the annual tax and the service tax. In 1474 the community paid a total of 5,500 maravedis in taxes.

The delegates of the communities met again in Valladolid in 1476. Apparently, a request was made by the communities to appoint R. Vidal Astori chief rabbi of the communities beyond the town of Burgos. Ferdinand agreed to the appointment, but later nominated Abraham *Seneor of Segovia chief rabbi of the whole kingdom in appreciation of his services. Ten years later in 1486, Ferdinand and Isabella took the part of the Jews of Valladolid against the decisions of the municipal council which tried to prevent Jews from settling there by prohibiting marriages of their children outside the town, with the intention of settling there after the marriage. In this period the delegates of the communities met in Valladolid under the leadership of Abraham Seneor to discuss raising funds for the expenses of the war against Granada. The atmosphere of this period, shortly before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, is reflected in the resolutions of the Christian craftsmen's guilds demanding that the Jews should leave the town because they did not wish to live beside them.

The relations between Jews and *Conversos and between Conversos and Christians by birth in Valladolid emerge in a satirical poem directed against the Converso poet Juan Poeta de *Valladolid, a native of the town. According to the poem, Juan intended to emigrate to Ereẓ Israel but fell into the hands of the Muslims in Fez and adopted Islam; his father, it is stated, sold rags in Valladolid. In 1485, after reports had been received that Conversos had returned to Judaism in Zamora, an investigation was carried out in Valladolid by the royal tribunal, although the *Inquisition tribunals were already active and one had been established in Valladolid that year. It is possible that the court intended thereby to suppress knowledge of the affair. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Fernán Núñez Coronel (Abraham Seneor) and Luis de Alcalá were appointed to collect the unpaid debts which the Jews had left in Valladolid in favor of the crown.

Apparently because few Conversos returned to Judaism in Castile, the Inquisition tribunal in Valladolid did not develop large-scale activity, though its investigations were renewed in 1499. The tribunal was abolished in 1560 when the area of its jurisdiction was included in the tribunal of Toledo.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; Neuman, Spain, index; H. Beinart, in: Sefunot, 5 (1961); J. Ortega y Rubio, Historia de Valladolid (1887), 92ff.; J.A. Revilla, Los privilegios de Valladolid (1906), 151f.; H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), 544–5; A. Ballesteros, in: Sefarad, 6 (1946), 255, 259n., 263ff.; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; P. León Tello, Judíos de Palencia (1967), Docs. 40, 84.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.